January 2013

Online resources help gardeners learn about bugs, plants, birds and more


Yellow and black garden spider forms a zigzag pattern in the center of her nest. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

As we prepare (at least mentally) for the great spring warm up, I thought I’d share some online resources that can help you identify bugs, weeds and other pests, learn about plants and good combinations, garden to-do lists and more.

Focuses on North American spiders and insects. Has BugFinder, where you can fill out primary and secondary body colors, number of legs and state. I plugged in black and yellow body colors, eight legs, Indiana and the BugFinder came up with black-and-yellow garden spider (Argiope spp.)

Butterflies and Moths of North America works with researchers and citizen scientists, who contribute photos, tracking information and more.

Operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this site has photos, songs or calls, info on habitats and food sources. There also are maps of seasonal ranges, where birds nest and migration patterns.

Marion County Master Gardener and Purdue Extension-Marion County operate this site, where gardeners can ask about plant and landscape problems, houseplants, insects and diseases. Send questions and photos to, or call (317) 275-9292.

Garden News Break

Garden News Break has compiled information on hundreds of weeds, including many university sites, with photos. You’ll also find ways to prevent or fight weeds in the landscape.

University of California-Davis

The University of California-Davis has one of the best sites for information about integrated pest management and other environmentally friendly controls of insects, diseases and other pests.

Landscape designer and all-round good-gal Wendy Ford compiles a calendar of garden and nature-related activities and events in Indiana. It is published the first of each month.

Here you’ll find garden checklists for each month along with tips on how to accomplish the tasks.

Dave’s Garden Watchdog has a free directory of more than 7,500 online retailers, including consumer ratings, reviews and ordering tips.

This site offers all the dirt on perennials, including horticulture requirements and companion plantings.